Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thankful for Winter - March 19, 2011

I know I may be in the minority of my friends but I love winter.  This year I had the opportunity to experience Nordic skiing and snowshoeing for four months from December through March and I am very thankful.  I also participated in five events including The Fridtjof Nansen Ski Race, the BirkieTour II, the St. Mary's 10K, the City of Lakes Loppet, the American Birkebeiner Nordic Ski Race.  See write ups of each on this blog. It was a challenging year with both the Birkie Tour and Birkie 52K being extremely cold.
I only went snowshoeing one day this winter but it was with my bride on my birthday - so February 12th was a magical day.  Carol was up in La Crosse for a long weekend and we spent Saturday afternoon hiking some of the upper Hixon Forest Trails before going out for a nice dinner at The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern which is right on the Mississippi River.  We also had a wonderful MedLink AIR staff party at the Train Station BBQ on Friday night where it was a great opportunity to introduce Carol to fellow co-workers and for me to meet their spouses and significant others.
After the Birkie I was able to ski two more weekends.  On Sunday, March 6th I skied the trails at St. Mary's in the early afternoon after church.  The picture to the left was taken after a long climb up from the parking lot.  The weather was beautiful with a nice sunny day, temperatures at -1C, a bit of a south wind, and trails that had been freshly groomed the day before!  I skied 13.39K and had an absolutely delightful time including a nice talk with one of the Brothers who teaches at St. Mary's University.

Fast forward one weekend to Saturday, March 12th and I was in Northern Wisconsin and Tim Burke and I got in our last ski of the season in the Brule River State Forest on the Afterhours Ski Trail.  The area has a number of trails that are mostly flat but very well maintained by the park service and the Brule XC Ski.  We lucked out because when I drove up to Superior, Wisconsin where Tim and his wife, Val live on Friday night we were not sure if we would get to ski since it has warmed up.  We lucked out, however, and had a nice day of classic skiing with four inches of new snow followed by a cool down with temperatures at -6C.  The picture to the left shows all the fresh snow both on the trail and in the trees.  The first picture in this post is of Tim and I on the Afterhours ski trail.

The picture to the left you will find near the parking lot at the Brule River State Forest on the Afterhours Ski Trail.  I would highly recommend this area as a Daily Trail Pass is only $2 and if you have a yearly Wisconsin State Park Pass for $20 you are also covered.  Below is the brochure from the Afterhours Ski Trail which shows the trail map.
I am writing this post on the first day that I rode my bicycle this season, Saturday, March 19th.  It was only a short 14.66K ride on a nice sunny day with temperatures at 15C.  As you can see from the picture to the left, we still have a good bit of snow here in La Crosse, especially in the bluffs on both sides of the Mississippi River.  This picture was taken on Bliss Road which goes up to Grandad Bluff Park that overlooks the city.  I thought this was a good picture to show the transition today from skiing to biking.  Snow in the background and on my bike in the foreground.  Thank you Winter and hello Spring!

My Garmin Connect GPS from the two days of skiing and the short ride today are located below.

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